Administration looks to expand health care coverage step by step


WASHINGTON -- Mindful of lessons learned in the last four years, President Clinton and his aides are developing incremental proposals to fill gaps in health insurance coverage, administration officials said.

The proposals, to help provide coverage for some of the nation's 10 million uninsured children and to help pay premiums for workers who are between jobs, look more feasible now because medical costs are coming under control.

Donna E. Shalala, secretary of health and human services, said last week that the administration would try to expand coverage step by step, rather than by proposing a grand scheme to redesign the health care system.

Clinton suffered his biggest political defeat when Congress in 1994 rejected his plan to guarantee health insurance for all Americans.

The administration has not decided how ambitious its new proposals will be. But Chris Jennings, a White House aide who coordinates health policy for the president, said the efforts would be carried out "in the context of a balanced budget."

The administration is considering two approaches.

One is to Make sure all eligible children enroll in Medicaid, the federal-state health program for low-income people.

The other approach is to help families buy private insurance for children who do not qualify for Medicaid.

Pub Date: 11/11/96

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